Maldives frees top dissident from house arrest | india | Hindustan Times
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Maldives frees top dissident from house arrest

The Govt has freed a political dissident from house arrest, opening the door for talks with the opposition on democratic reforms.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 12:00 IST

The Maldivian government has freed a top political dissident from house arrest, opening the door for talks with the opposition on democratic reforms.

At the same time, the government warned that the released leader Mohamed Nasheed, better known as Anni, would continue to face terrorism charges unless he adopted a conciliatory approach.

The Maldivian government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said it released Nasheed from 13 months of detention following a deal brokered by the British government.

"He was released as part of the talks held under the auspices of the British High Commission in Colombo," Maldivian government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef told the agency.

"We expect him to engage the government in political reform talks."

Shareef said the terrorism charges against Nasheed were still pending but they could be dropped "if he sticks to his side of the bargain and drops his militant approach."

Nasheed, head of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), ended a self-imposed exile in Britain and travelled to the Indian Ocean archipelago last year to demand political reforms but was arrested on terrorism charges which he denied.

His release followed last month's pardon to another top MDP figure, Jennifer Latheef, who was serving a 10-year sentence on terrorism charges linked to a pro-democracy riot in 2003 in the capital island, Male.

"With the release of Mohamed Nasheed and Jennifer Latheef, the government has met conditions for formal talks to take place between the government of Maldives and the MDP," the pro-MDP Friends of the Maldives support group said.